The Director’s Chair Issue #153 – May 6, 2014 (Connecting with Your Audience’s Emotions)
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2. Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
3. FEATURE ARTICLE: Connecting with Your Audience’s Emotions
4. Film Directing Coach Services
5. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
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Welcome to Issue #153 of The Director’s Chair, May 6, 2014
1. The Feature Article this month is called: Connecting with
your Audience’s Emotions by Jeffrey Michael Bays. “We live in the
midst of a “gold rush” of filmmaking. It’s a time when equipment
is cheaper than ever, and an influx of directors out there making
films hoping to find gold. But, instead of a precious metal they
are looking for a different kind of gold – a golden emotional
connection with their audience. Without it, their efforts will
be for nothing. What’s the best way to find this emotional
connection?” (Read full article below.)
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3. Feature Article: Connecting with your Audience’s Emotions
“Connecting with your Audience’s Emotions” by Jeffrey Michael Bays.
We live in the midst of a “gold rush” of filmmaking. It’s a time
when equipment is cheaper than ever, and an influx of directors
out there making films hoping to find gold. But, instead of a
precious metal they are looking for a different kind of gold ‚Äì a
golden emotional connection with their audience. Without it,
their efforts will be for nothing. What’s the best way to find
this emotional connection?
This is the undercurrent question of my new book “Between the
Scenes” as I explore how directors can use scene changes as smart
tools for provoking their audiences’ empathies. The easiest and
most important tool you have as a director is to follow your hero
in motion from one scene to the other. Travelling through
geographic space is one thing film does best, over all the other
When we think of travel in real life, we tend to think of
boredom. Waiting in traffic during rush hour, sitting through a
long flight – these are all moments we’d rather forget. But for
some reason, these moments of travel can be intently captivating
in a movie narrative if they are expressing a character’s
It is when a character reacts to a plot revelation at the end of
one scene and travels to the next scene that we get the most
emotion. When you allow your audience to share in this hero’s
reaction, follow them out to the car, on the bus, on horseback,
in a spaceship to a different planet, this is when that audience
feels the most “at one” with the story.
Of course you can’t show where your characters go between every
scene in your movie, so you’ll have to be selective, choosing
maybe three important moments for your hero to react to. All
between-scene travelling that doesn’t express some sort of
character emotion should be kept off the screen, otherwise you
risk creating boredom.
Let’s walk through a typical scene transition in which a hero
goes on a journey, both emotionally and geographically.
1. Something Big Just Happened
At the end of every scene, something big happens and we
anticipate the effect it will have on the characters. It might
be a line of dialogue that sparks a reaction or a new discovery –
a piece of plot news that changes everything.
It’s not enough that this “something big” has happened, it also
comes with an emotional charge. It tugs at our empathy. Film
is, at its core, an emotional release of plot information. The
only reason your characters exist is to dramatically express that
information so your audience can internalize it. Your character
must react to the plot twist.
2. The Character Reacts
Your character is in shock, in the midst of making a profound
decision, or taking an action prompted by what has just happened.
When a character reacts to plot information they tend to move.
Cinematically, it’s common to show your hero walking at this
moment, or to put them in vehicles. You can put them in cars,
trains bicycles, motorcycles, buses, airplanes, spaceships… or
on horseback. These means of transport allow the hero to act
with or against the emotional forces – either to escape or
If you choose to keep your character motionless, you can instead
move your camera around them in order to generate a similar swell
of emotion in the audience. Either way, your intent should be to
make your audience feel what your hero feels. Motion is the
easiest way to do this. In cinema, motion equals emotion.
3. The Viewer Becomes Gold
When the “something big” happens and the hero gets on his
surfboard to ride the plot wave, the viewer is fully involved.
At this moment, the viewer is swept away into the story, fully
connected with the events and the hero. This is the moment when
you, as director, have struck gold.
For an easy-to-use guidebook on exploring that golden connection
to your audience, see “Between the Scenes” now available on
Kindle and bookstores worldwide.
Amazon and Kindle:
Barnes & Nobel and Nook:
Book Depository (free shipping):
Jeffrey Michael Bays is author of ‘How to Turn Your Boring Movie
into a Hitchcock Thriller’ as well as ‘Between the Scenes: What
Every Film Director, Writer and Editor Should Know about Scene
Transitions.‚Äô He is both a director and film scholar with an MA
in Cinema Studies from La Trobe University, Australia. He is
also writer and producer of XM Satellite Radio’s award-winning
drama ‘Not From Space’ (2003), recently listed by Time Out
magazine as among the top five most essential radio plays of all
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